RR watches 1887-1899

Greg Frauenhoff

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I've been reviewing some of the old threads and the subject of whether something is a RR watch (RR grade, RR standard, RR approved...they all mean essentially the same thing) comes up repeatedly. In particular there seems to be continuing confusion about what were the RR watch standards in the period from 1887-1899.

First, if you really want to research this topic there are some good resources on our NAWCC encyclopedia pages, e. g.



Second, Kent Singer and Ed Ueberall have done a tremendous amount of research on this topic and they are experts in every GOOD sense of the word. Their opinions are well informed and based on real period info, not simply the stuff you get from a quick internet survey of the subject at hand.

Third, it perplexes me that some collectors today believe that during 1887-1899 there were no "standards" for watches in RR service. Or that the "standards" weren't widespread. They were. Numerous MAJOR RRs during the late 1880s and early 1890s published their requirements for watches in RR service (see the links above for a sampling). They listed "minimum STANDARDS" or noted that the "STANDARD determined" shall be, etc. Clearly there were STANDARDS and they were widespread.

Fourth, what were these standards? The CB&Q watch circular of 1889 gives what the general, widespread standards of the time were: "The standard determined on shall be a grade which shall be equal to what is known among the general American movement as the "fifteen jeweled Patent Regulator" and adjusted to heat and cold". The performance standard was set at + or - 30 seconds per week (in service).

See, STANDARDS. Note the adjustment standard: Heat & Cold. No mention of positions. It was not until c. 1899 that a standard for number of positions became widespread and that number was THREE. Only later (c. 1905/06) did it become 5.

An example of what this all means. One of the most popular brands of American collectible watches is Hamilton. One of their earliest ads (1894) notes that:

"The Hamilton Watch Co. propose to build high grade watches, and there will not be issued a price list or catalogue of any kind whatever.
They now have ready for delivery a new model 18 size full plate movement, open face and hunting, in four grades.
Namely, 16 jeweled nickel, 16 jeweled nickel adjusted to temperature, 17 jeweled nickel adjusted to temperature, and 17 jeweled nickel, adjusted to temperature and positions."

The Hamilton and most other collectors can surely figure out what 4 grades this ad refers to. And all three that are noted as being "adjusted to temperature" would have been RR grade for their time.

Sorry if this comes across as ranting on my part. But I feel better now.
 

John Cote

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If it was a rant it wasn't a bad rant. It was, as Richard said, an informative post.

I too have sort of a pet peeve about the is it RR grade question and certainly about a lot of the answers given to this question. I guess I won't say more than that.

Anyway, thanks for the informative post.
 

DeweyC

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I've been reviewing some of the old threads and the subject of whether something is a RR watch (RR grade, RR standard, RR approved...they all mean essentially the same thing) comes up repeatedly. In particular there seems to be continuing confusion about what were the RR watch standards in the period from 1887-1899.

First, if you really want to research this topic there are some good resources on our NAWCC encyclopedia pages, e. g.



Second, Kent Singer and Ed Ueberall have done a tremendous amount of research on this topic and they are experts in every GOOD sense of the word. Their opinions are well informed and based on real period info, not simply the stuff you get from a quick internet survey of the subject at hand.

Third, it perplexes me that some collectors today believe that during 1887-1899 there were no "standards" for watches in RR service. Or that the "standards" weren't widespread. They were. Numerous MAJOR RRs during the late 1880s and early 1890s published their requirements for watches in RR service (see the links above for a sampling). They listed "minimum STANDARDS" or noted that the "STANDARD determined" shall be, etc. Clearly there were STANDARDS and they were widespread.

Fourth, what were these standards? The CB&Q watch circular of 1889 gives what the general, widespread standards of the time were: "The standard determined on shall be a grade which shall be equal to what is known among the general American movement as the "fifteen jeweled Patent Regulator" and adjusted to heat and cold". The performance standard was set at + or - 30 seconds per week (in service).

See, STANDARDS. Note the adjustment standard: Heat & Cold. No mention of positions. It was not until c. 1899 that a standard for number of positions became widespread and that number was THREE. Only later (c. 1905/06) did it become 5.

An example of what this all means. One of the most popular brands of American collectible watches is Hamilton. One of their earliest ads (1894) notes that:

"The Hamilton Watch Co. propose to build high grade watches, and there will not be issued a price list or catalogue of any kind whatever.
They now have ready for delivery a new model 18 size full plate movement, open face and hunting, in four grades.
Namely, 16 jeweled nickel, 16 jeweled nickel adjusted to temperature, 17 jeweled nickel adjusted to temperature, and 17 jeweled nickel, adjusted to temperature and positions."

The Hamilton and most other collectors can surely figure out what 4 grades this ad refers to. And all three that are noted as being "adjusted to temperature" would have been RR grade for their time.

Sorry if this comes across as ranting on my part. But I feel better now.
 
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Kent

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... Third, it perplexes me that some collectors today believe that during 1887-1899 there were no "standards" for watches in RR service. ...
We can blame W.C. Ball for creating the myth (in the 1910 Morrow interview) that there wasn't any watch inspection until he (Ball) created it in 1891 at the behest of the LS&MS following the infamous Kipton, OH wreck. We can also blame the Ball organization for perpetuating the myth by reprinting the Morrow interview and handing it out whenever anyone asked for information for use in writing an article.
 

DeweyC

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I've been reviewing some of the old threads and the subject of whether something is a RR watch (RR grade, RR standard, RR approved...they all mean essentially the same thing) comes up repeatedly. In particular there seems to be continuing confusion about what were the RR watch standards in the period from 1887-1899.

First, if you really want to research this topic there are some good resources on our NAWCC encyclopedia pages, e. g.



Second, Kent Singer and Ed Ueberall have done a tremendous amount of research on this topic and they are experts in every GOOD sense of the word. Their opinions are well informed and based on real period info, not simply the stuff you get from a quick internet survey of the subject at hand.

Third, it perplexes me that some collectors today believe that during 1887-1899 there were no "standards" for watches in RR service. Or that the "standards" weren't widespread. They were. Numerous MAJOR RRs during the late 1880s and early 1890s published their requirements for watches in RR service (see the links above for a sampling). They listed "minimum STANDARDS" or noted that the "STANDARD determined" shall be, etc. Clearly there were STANDARDS and they were widespread.

Fourth, what were these standards? The CB&Q watch circular of 1889 gives what the general, widespread standards of the time were: "The standard determined on shall be a grade which shall be equal to what is known among the general American movement as the "fifteen jeweled Patent Regulator" and adjusted to heat and cold". The performance standard was set at + or - 30 seconds per week (in service).

See, STANDARDS. Note the adjustment standard: Heat & Cold. No mention of positions. It was not until c. 1899 that a standard for number of positions became widespread and that number was THREE. Only later (c. 1905/06) did it become 5.

An example of what this all means. One of the most popular brands of American collectible watches is Hamilton. One of their earliest ads (1894) notes that:

"The Hamilton Watch Co. propose to build high grade watches, and there will not be issued a price list or catalogue of any kind whatever.
They now have ready for delivery a new model 18 size full plate movement, open face and hunting, in four grades.
Namely, 16 jeweled nickel, 16 jeweled nickel adjusted to temperature, 17 jeweled nickel adjusted to temperature, and 17 jeweled nickel, adjusted to temperature and positions."

The Hamilton and most other collectors can surely figure out what 4 grades this ad refers to. And all three that are noted as being "adjusted to temperature" would have been RR grade for their time.

Sorry if this comes across as ranting on my part. But I feel better now.

Greg,

The discussion in the thread below may be relevant (or not). It should not become a topic of discussion that digresses/detracts from your important post. It is intended only as an example of the importance of your post as it relates to "what we think we know".

https://mb.nawcc.org/threads/critical-thinking-and-watchmaking.178701/
 

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